Sunday, March 20, 2011

Building a Culture of Life - Archbishop Chaput

Another great talk by Archbishop Chaput. Here is the start of his address. I urge you to go to the link below to read the rest.

Building a Culture of Life

Feb. 25, 2011 (Fargo, ND) - Archbishop Chaput addressed laypeople of the Diocese of Fargo, with a presentation titled “Building a Culture of Life.” Archbishop offers a few “dos” and “don’ts” for building a culture of life, based on what he has seen in the American prolife experience throughout the past 38 years.

As I was gathering my thoughts for today, a line from Psalm 89 came back to me again and again: [Lord,] make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart. That’s an odd way to begin a prolife discussion, isn’t it – reminding everybody in the room that we don’t have a lot of time.

But I think it’s exactly the right place to start. The time we have in this world is brief. God is good, and the life he gives us is filled not just with problems and sorrow, but with beauty and joy and love and hope and nobility – and these things are worth fighting for. What we do in the world matters. How we use our time matters. And therefore the choices we make matter – precisely because we come this way only once, and the world will be better or worse for our passing.

So our presence here together today has a meaning much larger than a nice meal and a good conversation about shared values. It’s an opportunity to remember that God put us here for a purpose. He’s asking us to turn our hearts to building the kind of world that embodies his love and honors the sanctity of the human children he created.

Our theme today is “building a culture of life.” All of us here this afternoon know that U.S. Supreme Court struck down restrictive American abortion laws in 1973. That effectively legalized abortion on demand. Since then, abortion has killed more than 50 million unborn American children. It’s also damaged the lives of millions of women and men. The sheer size of this tragedy has had a very curious effect on the American mind, because Americans have always been a religious people – and we still are by the standards of most developed countries. In practice, Americans now have a kind of schizophrenia about the abortion issue. Most of us believe abortion is wrong. But many people – many otherwise good people -- also want it to be legal under some limited circumstances.

This split in the American mind has two results. Here’s the first consequence. The United States has a large and well-funded abortion industry. The industry has very shrewd political lobbyists. It also has a public relations machine that would make George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth look like a gang of amateurs. In practice, the industry runs on an engine of persuasive-sounding lies.

You know some of the lies. I’m sure you’ve heard them a thousand times. There’s the lie that an unborn child isn’t “fully human.” The lie that abortion is a purely private decision without public consequences. The lie that we can be “pro-choice,” and yet not be implicated in where our choices lead -- to the killing of an unborn child.

Here’s the second consequence. Right alongside the abortion industry, our country also has a very vigorous prolife movement. American prolifers have had many setbacks. They never have enough money. They get treated brutally by the media. Too many of their leaders argue with each other too much of the time. But they just won’t give up or die. And so they’ve won quite a few modest but important legal victories. And meanwhile they continue to work toward the strategic goal of overturning the 1973 Supreme Court decision.

Based on what I’ve seen in the American prolife experience over the past 38 years, I’d like to offer a few “dos” and “don’ts” for building a culture of life. And perhaps we can talk about them more deeply in our question and answer session. I’ll begin with six “don’ts.”

First, don’t let yourselves be tricked into an inferiority complex.

Critics like to say that religion is divisive, or intellectually backward, or that it has no proper place in the public square. This kind of defective thinking is now so common that any religiously grounded political engagement can be portrayed as crossing the border between Church and state affairs.

But this is nonsense. Democracy depends on people of conviction carrying their beliefs into public debate -- respectfully, legally and non-violently, but vigorously and without apology. If we’re uncomfortable being Christians in a public debate, then we’ve already lost the war. In America the word “pluralism” is often conjured up like a kind of voodoo to get religious people to stop talking about right and wrong. In reality, our moral beliefs always shape social policy. Real pluralism actually demands that people with different beliefs should pursue their beliefs energetically in the public square. This is the only way a public debate can be honest and fruitful. We should never apologize for being Catholics, or for advancing our beliefs in private or in public.

Read the rest here.

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